Sunday, August 30, 2009

Get foreign-language text read to you online for free

My Russian tutorThis lady reads Russian to me. There is some major heavenly body action going on in the sky behind her.
When I signed up for CorrectMyText, I must have said I was studying Russian, because here's the message I got from them today:
Вы получили сообщение от Катрина со следующим содержанием:
I studied a year of Russian back in high school, but the only word I could remember was the first one, вы, which means "you". A couple of free online dictionaries quickly got me this translation:
You have received a message from Katrina with the following contents:
Knowing what it meant was a good start, but I also wanted to hear what it sounded like; although I can read the letters, I have no idea how close my imagined pronunciation is with the actual pronunciation (ultimate result: not so close). Without a Russian speaker anywhere nearby, and without feeling like spending the time to find one online willing to humor me via Skype, I googled about for a text-to-speech solution online, and quickly found one.

What I found was Smartlink's text-to-speech website.

The Russian sounded fine to me, but I really have no idea, so to see how good these voices were I checked out the English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese, and I have to say they are pretty darn good. In addition to those langauges, French, German, Italian, and Korean are also available. They even come with computer-animated speakers, one of whom (one of which?) is pictured above. They are a wee bit creepy, especially when they're moving, but that doesn't take away from the pretty impressive text-to-speech.

Another very cool feature is that they change the color of the text next to the animated image as the text is being read—kind of like language-learning karaoke.

All in all, a pretty cool tool for when you need a sentence or two pronounced for you on the fly.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link to Smartlink -- going to add it as a tool for improving my Korean pronunciation.